The Line (aka La Linea) is another movie about drug lords and a cocaine cartel. There are plenty of bullets, blood, and even a babe who is really a hooker with a heart of gold. There are assassins, priests, and a shadowy CAI presence. And to top all of that off, there’s a deal brewing between the cartel and some Afghan terrorist.
Written by R.Ellis Frazier and directed by James Cotten, this 2009 action film was released on the 10th of November, 2009 – likely straight to DVD.
The movie is filled with planning and plotting much of which is presented in a straightforward manner, and logical in the narrative. But some of it comes out of nowhere, or seemingly out of nowhere, so pay attention. The film is dark visually as well as dark thematically. The locations are pretty much dreary, but this is to be expected as all of the film takes place in Tijuana, Mexico and in dark, out-of-way areas in Tijuana , and for good reasons, such as drug deals, assignations, and assassinations. The film says that Tijuana is now the MOST dangerous city in North America.
Ray Liotta, as Mark Shields, crosses into Tijuana and books a room at a decent hotel. Five minutes later, after changing his clothes, he’s booking another hotel room. This place is crawling with street walkers, and those so far down on their luck that their lives would have improved if they could find enough upward mobility so they might get to the level of desperate. The hotel is so seedy that the clerk offers him a room at a half-hour short stay rate. When he says, he needs the room for a few days, she says to Liotta, you don’t want to stay here – there’s no hot water. But when he pushes two C-notes through the partition she changes her mind. And in our minds, we know that Liotta has an agenda. Sort of like a modern day Paladin – have gun, will travel.
By the way, that’s no spoiler, as Liotta is on the DVD cover toting a rifle.
Andy Garcia plays Javier Salazar, the dying head of the cartel. He’s on oxygen, he has an IV drip, aqnd he looks like shit. He’s just named Pelon, played by Esai Morales, as a young lion, carnivorous and fearless, to be the new head of the cartel.
Pelon, now in charge, sets up his first deal , and it’s going to be with the Taliban for heroin.
When Pelon was named head – this passed over Salazar’s stepson Diablo played by Jordi Vilasuso – who is plenty pissed at not getting the nod.
Other notables are Armand Assante as the parish priest, and Valerie Cruz as Olivia the hooker.
Bruce Davison, plays a retired covert operative, very much like William Dafoe’s character in the film A Clear and Present Danger. He has been asked to form up a team and take out Pelon quickly. And who is asking for this?
Why that would be Joe Morton who is a section chief for some unnamed agency.
Basically what we have here is a story about how some 6 billion dollars of cocaine passes into the USA via Tijuana. But the powers that be aren’t going to allow the Pelon/Salazar cartel to get into bed with the Taliban. So Pelon must go.
“Do nothing… If you want to shut down a fundamentally flawed system… all you gotta do is step out of its way… and it’ll shut itself down. Nature has a way of correcting itself.”
…Which are key and prophetic words.
In a nutshell, this is a provocative film filled with brutality, yet some unexpected character depth. The story varies its pacing, and there are parts that are slow. But the atmosphere is always tense and menacing. The script has some twists and turns, so you will need to pay attention.
My only really complaint is that this film was so dark. However, if you want a light and bright drug film, take in Blow, or the classic Pacino film – Scarface. This film has something in common with in those movies, as well as Traffic. But keep in mind, that this one went straight to DVD – so this one will hold your attention, but it won’t tie up traffic with people rushing out to rent it.